US accepts some blame for Nato strike that killed Pakistani troops

Hopes of easing fraught diplomatic relations come as Islamabad faces fresh political crisis

A lack of trust, poor coordination and inaccurate maps were responsible for the Nato strike that left 24 Pakistani troops dead and relations between Washington and Islamabad at a new low, a Pentagon investigation concludes.

While placing blame on both sides, the US report apparently accepts that American and Afghan commandos were wrong when they concluded there were no Pakistani troops in the area where they were conducting an operation.

When the troops came under fire, they called in an airstrike from F-15 fighter bombers, Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 Spectre gunship, believing they were being attacked by militants. It remains unclear why Pakistani forces fired at the Americans and Afghans, though they too may have believed they were being approached by Taliban fighters. The report, which it is hoped will allow for improved relations between the two countries, says US and Afghan forces acted in self-defence.

"Inadequate coordination by US and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination centre – including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer – resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units," said a statement released in Washington.

The attack on 26 November triggered outrage in Pakistan and led the authorities to close its border with Afghanistan to Nato trucks, and to refuse to participate in an international conference about the future of Afghanistan. The US was also ordered to leave the Shamsi airbase in the far south-west of Pakistan, a site reportedly used to maintain drones used to attack suspected militants.

Last night, there was no official response from the Pakistani authorities to the report, due to be passed to US politicians today, but some analysts said they believed the US's acceptance of at least some responsibility could help ease tensions. "To the extent that they have accepted responsibility, that will help to bring a thaw in relations," said retired General Talat Masood. "I think both countries need each other. The marriage is going through a bad patch, but they are trying to stick together."

The report comes at a time of fresh crisis for Pakistan, with its civilian government locked in dispute with the powerful military over the ramifications of a now notorious memo.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani warned there were plots to undermine the government. "I want to make it clear today that conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government," he said as he delivered strongly-worded rebukes, firstly to unidentified persons he said were trying to undermine the elected government, and later to the military.

Referring to testimony delivered to the Supreme Court by the ministry of defence that it did not exercise operational control over the armed forces, he said: "If they say that they are not under the ministry of defence, then we should get out of this slavery, then this parliament has no importance, this system has no importance, then you are not sovereign. Nobody is above the law, all the institutions are subservient to the parliament... They have to be answerable to this parliament. They cannot be a state within a state."

Mr Gilani's comments underscore growing frustration with the military. Last week, the prime minister rejected the notion that there was bad blood between the civilian leadership and the armed forces, headed by Gen Ashfaq Kayani. In the aftermath of the May raid by US forces that killed Osama bin Laden and deeply embarrassed Pakistan's armed forces, Mr Gilani spoke out in support of the military.

Earlier this year, Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed in a newspaper article that he had been asked to pass on a message to the US military, asking for help to rein in Pakistani generals after the attack that killed Bin Laden. Mr Ijaz claimed Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, had asked for his help.

The controversy has already claimed the scalp of Mr Haqqani, forced out, apparently at the insistence of the military even though he denied involvement.

It also threatens President Asif Ali Zardari, who yesterday returned to Islamabad after recuperating from a mini-stroke. At the request of opposition politician Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court has launched an investigation into so-called Memogate. The army has denied it was ever planning a coup against the civilian government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015